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Dryland soil chemical properties and crop yields affected by long-term tillage and cropping sequence

Upendra M. Sainju, Brett L. Allen, Thecan Caesar-TonThat, Andrew W. Lenssen
SpringerPlus 2015 v.4 no.320 pp. -
Hordeum vulgare, Pisum sativum, Triticum aestivum, arid lands, arid soils, autumn, barley, calcium, cation exchange capacity, continuous cropping, crop residues, crop yield, cropping sequence, electrical conductivity, fallow, long term effects, magnesium, nitrogen fertilizers, no-tillage, peas, phosphorus, potassium, reduced tillage, sodium, soil fertility, soil nutrients, soil pH, spring, spring wheat, sulfates, zinc, Great Plains region, United States
Information on the effect of long‑term management on soil nutrients and chemical properties is scanty. We examined the 30‑year effect of tillage frequency and cropping sequence combination on dryland soil Olsen‑P, K, Ca, Mg, Na, SO(4)–S, and Zn concentrations, pH, electrical conductivity (EC), and cation exchange capacity (CEC) at the 0–120 cm depth and annualized crop yield in the northern Great Plains, USA. Treatments were no‑till continuous spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) (NTCW), spring till continuous spring wheat (STCW), fall and spring till continuous spring wheat (FSTCW), fall and spring till spring wheat–barley (Hordeum vulgare L., 1984–1999) followed by spring wheat–pea (Pisum sativum L., 2000–2013) (FSTW‑B/P), and spring till spring wheat‑fallow (STW‑F, traditional system). At 0–7.5 cm, P, K, Zn, Na, and CEC were 23–60% were greater, but pH, buffer pH, and Ca were 6–31% lower in NTCW, STCW, and FSTW–B/P than STW‑F. At 7.5–15 cm, K was 23–52% greater, but pH, buffer pH, and Mg were 3–21% lower in NTCW, STCW, FSTCW, FSTW–B/P than STW‑F. At 60–120 cm, soil chemical properties varied with treatments. Annualized crop yield was 23–30% lower in STW‑F than the other treatments. Continuous N fertilization probably reduced soil pH, Ca, and Mg, but greater crop residue returned to the soil increased P, K, Na, Zn, and CEC in NTCW and STCW compared to STW‑F. Reduced tillage with continuous cropping may be adopted for maintaining long‑term soil fertility and crop yields compared with the traditional system.